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^ pit Pit.png
Generates Anywhere
Effect Prevents movement, damage

A pit ^ is a trap consisting of a hole in the ground that is not deep enough to lead to the next level; it opens up and becomes visible when you walk over it.


Pits may be randomly generated at any dungeon level, anywhere that traps are normally generated, with the exception that they cannot be generated beneath a boulder.[1]

You can dig down with a pick-axe, or zap a wand of digging down on a undiggable floor; this creates a pit on the square you are standing on. You can also create pits by applying a wand of digging or a charged drum of earthquake, which will create pits around you.

Pits that you create are effectively the same as randomly generated pits, except that they are recorded as being created by you, and as such will anger peaceful monsters who fall into them.


Falling into a pit causes 1d6 damage, and will also abuse strength and dexterity; falling into a pit as a pit fiend or a pit viper will generate YAFM. Spiked pits can be found as well and use a similar glyph.

While in the pit, any light source you are carrying will not travel beyond the walls of the pit, and it takes 3-7 turns to "climb to the edge" and escape. There is a to-hit bonus when attacking trapped monsters, and a penalty for trapped attackers. Flying or levitation can be used to cross pits without falling in, with the exception of those generated on the first floor in Sokoban; air currents will force the character into the pit, preventing them from flying or floating across to the stairs. A character that dies as a result of this is listed as "killed by dangerous winds".

Pits can be removed by pushing a boulder into them. Any item the boulder covers will remain undisturbed by monsters until you dig it up again or it rots away.


Monsters, including your pets, can be rescued from a pit trap using the #untrap extended command. If successful, the monster may become peaceful if it was previously hostile. Lawful characters may get a +1 alignment bonus for helping a monster out of a pit. If the monster "backs away skeptically", try repeating the #untrap command several times.

If the monster cannot go anywhere for lack of space, as in the Sokoban pits, it will likely immediately fall back into the pit. However, killing it this way does not break pacifist conduct, and having a pet die this way does not anger your god as killing your pet by displacing it into the pit would.

Some monsters may be too heavy to rescue from a pit, but the attempt to untrap them may still render the trapped monster peaceful.

"The dwarf falls into a pit!"
"You reach for the dwarf. The dwarf is grateful!"
"The ogre lord is too heavy for you to lift. The ogre lord thinks it was nice of you to try."

Buried objects

Some of the gold and gems created by the game in solid rock are buried - if any such items found by some form of object detection or gold detection disappear when the player is adjacent to them, this means they are buried underneath that tile, and the player must dig a pit in that location to retrieve them.

If you drop something into a pit, and then plug the pit with a boulder, the objects become buried and are totally inaccessible to monsters. While a somewhat easier stashing method, this is not entirely practical: Organic materials (including large boxes and chests) will rot away within 250 turns,[2] and you would need a new boulder for each access.


Pits can be deadly to a player character in the early game, especially for little dogs and kittens. A player wielding a cockatrice corpse without levitation should be careful not to step on any square that might be a pit; a simple way to do so is to unwield it before moving anywhere.

Player-dug pits can be useful for hunting unicorns, controlling aligned priest and shopkeeper movement even when they are angry‚ and making Fort Ludios soldiers easier to kill right at the choke point. In addition, many other forms of trap can be removed by digging a pit on their square. However, they can also anger peaceful monsters who fall into them - notably including the Minetown watchmen. Monsters that die from your pits will only earn you experience if you create a pit right under them (by applying a wand of digging or charged drum of earthquake) or displace them in; doing so also breaks pacifist conduct.

You cannot create pits with a pickaxe or by zapping a wand of digging down at an altar; applying a wand of digging or a charged drum of earthquake while standing on one will destroy it, however.


Items that are dropped or fall into pits represent a real problem for SLASH'EM vampires: due to their innate flying ability, the cannot simply pick them up. One solution is to wear a ring of levitation and to apply a bullwhip down.

Encyclopedia entry

Amid the thought of the fiery destruction that impended, the
idea of the coolness of the well came over my soul like balm.
I rushed to its deadly brink. I threw my straining vision
below. The glare from the enkindled roof illumined its inmost
recesses. Yet, for a wild moment, did my spirit refuse to
comprehend the meaning of what I saw. At length it forced --
it wrestled its way into my soul -- it burned itself in upon my
shuddering reason. Oh! for a voice to speak! -- oh! horror! --
oh! any horror but this!

[ The Pit and the Pendulum, by Edgar Allan Poe ]


  1. mklev.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 1251: List of traps that cannot be generated underneath a boulder.
  2. dig.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 1324

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